It’s Time for CMOs to Think About Retirement!


Why targeting California Seniors should become a priority.

CMOs should think more about retiring – not theirs, but those 65 and older who have more time and wealth than any other segment! Population growth in California is a fact of life. And for California seniors, there’s a lot more life ahead of them to drive sales and share for decades to come.

The growth trends are significant:

  • Since 2010, California Seniors have increased 112%
  • During the same time period, 38 California counties will increase 150% by 2020.
  • And another 26 California counties will increase by 200%

With growth happening like this, one would assume that the largest and wealthiest population segment is in the line of sight for CMOs across every business segment. In truth, seniors are only targeted with 10% of paid media buys. And given the capability of more increased customer data than ever before, it is baffling to see such a “rich and ready” target essentially remain invisible to so many brands.

While pharma and travel rank high among senior spending, the vast majority of product categories that seniors buy are nearly identical to those younger consumers purchase.

Opportunities to focus on new, emerging targets is not new, especially in California.

Back in the 1980’s, the practice of specialization by agencies targeting highly measurable consumer groups began to appear in California as the ethnic demography began to change. An early agency specialty was Hispanic consumer marketing, followed by African-American and Multi-cultural marketing. General market audiences, while important, continued to shrink as a  percentage of the total shopper mix, especially in California. But the smart CMO, and the agencies they hired, went beyond the mere translation of general market creative. To have relevance in this new space, Hispanic marketing expertise was acquired by the general market agencies and Hispanic-centric agencies started growing. They successfully captured blue-chip clients seeking authenticity in the advertising aimed at the Hispanic consumer and the billions they had to spend.

Today, only a of handful of dedicated senior-focused agencies exist – a hugely disproportionate number considering the soon to be largest population segment in the country.

What those ‘daring’ enough have discovered is that today’s older consumers respond to creative and messaging that is relevant and respectful of someone who has been a consumer for the past 40-50 years. Imagine giving specific attention to the most experienced shoppers on the planets – ones who do their homework and seek value, but aren’t only looking at price.

This is the audience CMOs should embrace and make the effort to speak to on their terms.

CMOs should carve out a portion of their budget and  tailor the message with as much consideration for authentically as if it were for a Hispanic, African-American, multicultural or millennial target. The time is now since by the end of this decade, California will exceed 50 million in population, equal to 14% of U.S. total. With California seniors buying power and their desire to continue to consume almost anything, CMOs need to rethink their position on older audiences as new acquisition targets. Just imagine what success and added growth could mean to your own retirement someday.

Photo by Koldunov


Author Profile

Brad Ball
Brian Morris and I have been good friends and industry competitors for years. We both have run major advertising agencies and both have held top level client-side positions. I am a former partner at ad agency Davis, Ball and Colombatto, and the former Chief Marketing Officer at McDonalds and President, Theatrical Marketing for Warner Brothers. Brian and I are now in our 60’s and came together in 2017 to form a company that understands the Senior market better than traditional ad agencies, Silver Advertising. We are now poised to be passionate advocates for these consumers as they enter their 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and beyond.

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